Harvard-Kent Elementary School, which serves the city’s largest number of Boston public school students who live in public housing, was recognized Thursday for its academic achievement and for “cultivating a culture that is equal parts supportive and rigorous,” according to officials.
The Charlestown school was awarded EdVestor’s 14th annual $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize.
“Exceptional schools like the Harvard-Kent are the soul of our city and I applaud the teachers and staff for their commitment to educating and empowering Boston’s young people,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.
Two finalists for the award, the Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston and the Thomas J. Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester, each received a $10,000 prize during a ceremony Thursday morning.
The event was held at the InterContinental Boston, where Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced the winner and presented the award.
Harvard-Kent principal Jason Gallagher said in a telephone interview Thursday that the school has succeeded through academic rigor, support from the community, and creating an atmosphere that allows students, parents, and staff to work together as partners in the children’s education.
“It starts the second we walk in the door,” he said. “Our kids need to be happy and want to be there.”
Gallagher said he tries to bring joy to his students’ lives by offering activities they enjoy, such as robotics and creating a school newsletter.
EdVestors works to help Boston schools upgrade and each year recognizes a school that has achieved rapid improvement in academic performance.
Over the past few years, Harvard-Kent has improved in literacy and math, and was one of 14 Boston public schools in 2019 to exceed performance targets set by the state, EdVestors said in a statement.
“All three of this year’s finalist schools are a testament to what is possible when educators focus on the key practices that drive improving schools,” Marinell Rousmaniere, president and CEO of EdVestors said in the statement.
Harvard-Kent has 400 students, with nearly equal numbers of Latino, Asian, black, and white students, and more than half of the students are “English learners,” a quarter have disabilities, and more than two-thirds are economically disadvantaged, according to the statement.
Rousmaniere said the organization commends the finalist schools “for focusing on deep relationships with and rigorous academics for students to prepare them for promising futures, and for giving other schools a roadmap for continued improvement.”